Game Review: Machinarium (PS Vita)

Game Review

Machinarium is a point and click adventure game available for download from the PlayStation Store for the PS Vita. The game is an improved port of the PS3 version, which itself was released in all territories between September and October 2012 after it was the winner of Independent Games Festival’s Excellence in Visual Art Award in 2009; Gamasutra’s Best Indie Game of the Year 2009; VGChartz.com’s Best Indie Game of the Year 2009; PC Gamer’s Best Soundtrack of 2009; DICE Awards Finalist; and PAX10 Finalist.

The story of Machinarium revolves around a robot that has had his girlfriend kidnapped by a gang of evil robots called the Black Cap Brotherhood who have also exiled him to the scrap yard, which is the environment were you start the game. From the outset your goals are to repair yourself, find your way back into the city of Machinarium and save the city, while also saving your girlfriend and the leader of the city in the process from the evil Black Cap Brotherhood’s master plan.

There are no difficulty levels, but there doesn’t have to be with Machinarium as the puzzle solving is what provides the difficulty. The puzzles of Machinarium vary greatly and range from figuring out how to escape the scrap yard and finding your way back into the city of Machinarium to freeing yourself and your friends from jail and returning a dog to a lady and even winning a game of tic-tac-toe and completing video games at an arcade with each of the areas throughout the game requiring some level of puzzle solving in order to progress.

As it is a point and click game; the controls have been remarkably well mapped to the Vita. The face buttons consist of: pressing square for the inventory; X to walk to a chosen location or use an object; O to perform a break action; L or R to zoom in or out; changing the direction of the left analogue stick to move the cursor anywhere around the screen; moving the right analogue stick up or down to lengthen or shorten the size of the robot; and start to pause the game and view the options menu. The touch screen controls are used as an alternative method to the left analogue stick as the touch screen is used for moving the cursor, while double tapping the touch screen is an alternative to the X button as it will make the robot walk to a location or use an object. The rear touch pad controls are also used as an alternative method to the left analogue stick and touch screen as the rear touch pad is used for moving the cursor, while double tapping the rear touch pad is an alternative to the X button and the touch screen as it will make the robot walk to a location or use an object.

The graphics have darker and lighter tones to them with a unique art style that gives the impression of hand drawn graphics that come to life in each and every screen as the lead character; environments; obstacles; objects; enemies; and more besides are all rendered in beautiful detail, almost as though you were watching stop motion artwork.

The presentation of the game is solid with a great touch screen based user interface across various menus such as the main menu, options menu and help menu, which also incorporates support for navigation via the left analogue stick, face buttons and rear touch pad. The background of the menu screens looks very colourful and vibrant as they contain artwork from the game as it is paused and the main menu has artwork with the city of Machinarium in the background, while three robots start randomly flying around the environment when you position the cursor over each of them.

The entire soundtrack is by Tomas Dvorak (also known as Floex) and provides an amazing score that really creates an additional layer of atmosphere for the game and for those of you that like the soundtrack you will be pleased to know that you can purchase it as a download from the internet. There are various sound effects that revolve around the robot that you control, such as when the robot increases or decreases his length, shakes his head to inform you that the combination of two objects from your inventory is incorrect or when he picks up an object and opens his mouth to swallow the object to store it for later usage.

The trophy list includes twelve trophies with seven bronze trophies, four silver trophies and one gold trophy. The trophies are not necessarily easy due to some difficult puzzle solving, but all of the trophies are naturally earned through playing the game once from start to finish. The first few trophies will be earned within a matter of minutes providing that you understand the puzzles involved, such as the Survivor bronze trophy for escaping the scrap yard and the Back in Town bronze trophy for entering Machinarium. The hardest trophy is the Board Game Master bronze trophy for winning a game of tic-tac-toe, which is particularly hard due to the random nature of tic-tac-toe. I would estimate depending upon skill and a good trophy guide to provide some helpful tips on the harder puzzles and how to win the tic-tac-toe game that it would take between two to three hours to 100% the trophy list or much longer without a trophy guide.

There is no proper online multiplayer component, although there are online leaderboards accessible from the rankings option when you hover the cursor over the bottom of the screen that allows you to compare your current score with other players globally. The online leaderboards focuses on global rankings and my score with each leaderboard containing each player’s rank; name (PSN ID); and their current score.

The replayability of Machinarium is very clear from the charm of the lead character, story and adventure that you will set out upon throughout the entire game. The online leaderboards provide competition and a further reason to come back for some more.

Overall, Machinarium has bags of charm that will keep you coming back to play it beyond your first playthrough of the game. There is no denying the quality of Machinarium, especially considering the awards it has won and received nominations for, which is why at a price tag of only £4.79; if you are a fan of point and click or puzzle solving games you must not miss out on playing Machinarium on your PlayStation Vita, regardless of whether you have played previous versions!

Jason Bonnar

At A Glance

  • Title: Machinarium
  • Publisher: Amanita Design
  • System: PS Vita
  • Format: PSN Download
  • Cross Buy: No
  • Cross Play: No
  • Online Multiplayer: Yes (Online Leaderboards)
  • Memory Card Space Needed: 333Mb
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